Georgia 6-week abortion ban reinstated by state supreme court


The Georgia Supreme Court has reinstated the state’s ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, just a week after the law was struck down by a Fulton County judge.

In response to an emergency petition by the state, the high court issued a one-page order Wednesday that puts last week’s lower court ruling on hold while it considers an appeal.

In his Nov. 15 decision, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney determined that the so-called “heartbeat law” was unconstitutional when it was enacted in 2019 because the existing law of Roe v. Wade prohibited abortion prohibits previability. After her decision, abortion access in Georgia returned to the level before the ban up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

After Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, states were free to enact laws banning abortion before fetal viability. In states like Georgia, abortion bans were enacted at six weeks, which is the first time fetal heart electrical activity, other than the heartbeat of a fully formed organ, can be detected.

While Wednesday’s order is not the final word on the state’s abortion law, issuing the order reinstated the six-week ban with immediate effect. The court denied a request by abortion providers to give 24 hours notice before reinstating the ban.

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Georgia governor signs ‘heartbeat bill’, giving state one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country

Abortion rights groups have criticized the Georgia law as extreme, noting that it prohibits abortion before people often know they are pregnant. Victims seeking abortion due to rape or incest must file a police report on the assault to receive the exemption.

A spokesman for Attorney General Chris Carr (R) said Wednesday that the office welcomed the news.

“We are pleased with the Court’s action today. However, we are unable to provide further comment due to the pending appeal,” Kara Richardson, a spokeswoman for Carr’s office, said in an email.

Abortion clinics and reproductive rights groups that are among the plaintiffs criticized the decision, saying it once again changed the lives of Georgians seeking abortion access.

“It is outrageous that this extreme law is back in place, just days after it was properly blocked,” Alice Wang, an attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “This legal ping-pong is wreaking havoc on medical providers trying to do their jobs and on patients who are now left frantically searching for the abortion services they need.”

When the lower court overturned the ban last week, both sides were fully aware that the decision was provisional. Georgia abortion providers cautiously resumed scheduling abortions up to 22 weeks, while anti-abortion lawmakers such as Georgia Rep. Ed Setzler (R), author of the state’s abortion law, shrugging off last week’s lower court ruling, accurately predicting it would be quickly overturned by the state Supreme Court.

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The future of Georgia’s abortion law is likely to be decided in the courts and not in the Georgia statehouse, where political analysts and historians say lawmakers are tired from the bitter 2019 session, where the six-week ban was approved by a single vote, and they are ready. to address other legislative priorities.

Add to that the recent string of midterm election victories that demonstrated the broad popularity of abortion access.

Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia who specializes in southern and legislative politics, said abortion bans in the increasingly purple state are likely to boost red-core voters, but could be counterproductive with the general population of the state.

He cited a recent poll by the University of Georgia’s Center for Public and International Affairs Survey Research that found a majority of respondents either opposed or strongly opposed the six-week abortion ban. the state.

“Statewide, this is not a winning issue,” she said of abortion restrictions. While this is unlikely to affect local lawmakers in safe districts, stiff opposition to abortion rights “could come back to bite us.” [lawmakers] if they try to run for state office.”

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Abortion has become a major issue in the Georgia Senate race between incumbent Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker, whose staunchly anti-abortion public stance has faced with accusations from two women that while in a relationship with Walker, he pressured them to have abortions.

Georgia Republican analyst Brian Robinson said a split will emerge among anti-abortion Republicans if more abortion laws are forced through the chambers.

“You’re going to have some who want us to go in the direction of Virginia, which is competing [a ban at 15-weeks]and some who will want to stick with the ‘heartbeat’ standard, and some who will favor a complete ban,” Robinson said.

But even those whose opposition to abortion stems from what Robinson said were genuine beliefs about the sanctity of life live in a political context.

“It’s not a debate they’re eager to have,” he said. “Right now, what they’d rather be talking about and messaging about is solutions to our economy and our crime.”


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